ORILLIA – Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and other law enforcement agencies across the province are marking the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. March 25, 2019 is a day to celebrate the history of this amazing organization and also look 50 days ahead to the inaugural Special Olympics Ontario (SOO) Youth Invitational Games.
Together with longstanding supporters such as the Knights of Columbus, communities are hosting a flag raising ceremony, highlighting the success of the movement and supporting the new Draft an Athlete campaign. This initiative will help “draft” Ontario athletes who will be competing on the world stage May 14-17 in Toronto. Many schools have already qualified for the Games, with over 100 teams from Ontario alone. These young athletes, aged 13-21 are looking forward to competing against their peers from Ontario, across Canada and the world.
Today’s provincial goal across all 50 celebrating communities is to raise $50,000 to go towards the Draft an Athlete campaign.
The Invitational Youth Games will break new ground, hosting athletes with and without intellectual disabilities, competing against and alongside each other.
Qualifying will continue through to April. Organizers estimate the final draft will include over 200 teams and 300 individual athletes. All sports will offer two types of team divisions: a traditional division (in which all athletes on the team have an intellectual disability) and a Unified division (in which athletes with and without an intellectual disability compete on the same team).
“We are extremely proud of the outstanding Special Olympics athletes in the Orillia area and across this province,” said Interim OPP Commissioner Gary Couture. “Special Olympics has the unique ability to break down barriers, foster inclusion and acceptance, and unite the world.”
The SOO #YouthGames2019, May 14-17, will unite 2500 student athletes and their coaches. It is being hosted by the Toronto Police Service, with the support of the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto.